Monday, April 13, 2009

Houston We've Landed! our flight in to Houston was totally uneventful...that's a good thing. We got the rental car, picked up Amanda, and headed for the hotel. Thank heaven for portable GPS units. (We've named ours "Sal" after the captain that piloted our raft down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.) We celebrated getting the appointment with the experts at this world famous Cancer Center in absolutely miraculous time by having a huge steak dinner at Outback. I'll save the story about the crazy New York gypsy fortune teller that sat down at our table uninvited for another day...only us. You just got to laugh!! It was great to see Brenda's having a decent meal. I just can't tell you how calming it is to have Amanda here help us through all this. Our stomach aches have eased somewhat. this morning Brenda and I had Sal guide us to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. This is DEFINITELY the right place to be. It's HUGE and the patient service just couldn't be better. This is right in the midst of other top hospitals, but the Anderson facilities are second to none. We had put together an organized binder of all Brenda's medical records and tissue samples and we gave that to Dr. Hong's medical assistant...we waited for our afternoon appointment. Of course to pass the time, we went to Starbucks!!! Ha! 

OK so the afternoon came and we spent about a half hour to 45 minutes getting all registered and then the 3 musketeers were shown to an exam room. Dr. Hong came in with his assistant Mary and began asking questions. He was a soft spoken man in his 60's or so. Amanda mentioned their mutual acquaintance, Dr. Hedzel and he tried to recruit Amanda as a hospitalist at MD Anderson. He had a sense of humor and was just calm in his approach. He was gentle and did a good exam on Brenda's neck and to see if other nodes were swollen. He asked good questions and said that we were in the right place and that they would come up with a plan for treatment. He was REALLY surprised that the ENT and medical oncologist back in Phoenix were so so so ready to slice and dice Brenda's neck and head. Although he didn't have their pathologist report on Brenda's tissues and there were several other tests and docs that he wanted Brenda to see, he said that surgery (the radical neck dissection) was NOT what Brenda needed for this. He really couldn't outline anything right now just because he needed his other docs and tests to do that. DANG!!! We really wanted something today, but we totally understand the care and deliberation of his approach to this rare problem.

So tomorrow...more tests and doc visits (surgeon and radiological oncologist). Then they will all confer on Wednesday, and we will have our strategy meeting with Dr. Hong on Thursday morning. Amanda heads home around 12:30 and Brenda and I head home around 3:00. We'll know the plan then...we'll FINALLY get some definitive answers from these experts and will be assured what the beast we are looking at actually is, and how to kill it. 

Sorry I haven't blogged you all sooner, but they are having internet problems here at the hotel and Amanda and I have been trying to find a connection. We know all of you are starving for info. You're probably also disappointed that we don't have more info, but we feel so good that they are rallying the best and taking a thorough look at treatment options. This is what you would hope that your doctors would do when you present something quite out of the ordinary...NOT rush to the knife with incomplete info.

There are lessons here for us all. Hang in there Village and remember that we love you all for the energy and help you're giving us. You all are just the best!!! More tomorrow.


  1. Diva and Sophia: We love you both and thank you so much for the update. Kim called me at noon today (thank God she's on the ball and remembered the time difference between Phx and Houston!) and a prayer was said for you both, the doctors, assistants and staff that are all a part of this miraculous journey. We are so thankful that Amanda is there with you, as well, putting into layman's terms all of the mumbo-jumbo. Know that the Village is strong and united. We miss you both but know you are in good hands. Take good care of yourselves and be well...Love Always, Roo and K2

  2. Dee - Thank you for taking time to update the 'Village". You are correct, we are starving for information, but also understanding of the circumstances.
    Dr. Vic talks about "gut" feelings and Karen and I are so relieved that you are where you are at this point in time. We both have a good gut feeling AND thanks to the Tahiti vacation, these are now bigger guts - perhaps a pair of "Sue Size 9" level guts :)
    Amanda and Vicky - I think you both are getting a few toaster ovens, if you know what I mean. When I explain to my co-workers the phenomenon that is happening right before our eyes, they are amazed and now want to be a part of the 'Web' of healing for Brenda; support system for Dee and a part of a group that holds nothing but hope for all.
    This is one amazing village.
    Our best wishes for an informative few days in Houston - you are in good hands and surrounded by warm hearts.

  3. Yes we all need to practice Patience.... Everything is a process! It is so hard to wait for the info we all want... both us and you & Brenda. But I believe you are being directed to the right healers. I have got two highly effective on-line Healing Circles praying for both of you! Know you are both deeply loved and cherished.
    Many Blessings & Patience, Cathie & Evelyn

  4. Hey Brenda nice to talk to you yesterday, you sounded good! Thanks Peeker for the village updates we all appreciate them oxoxoxo.

    Hey Michele- "Sue Size 9" Really????? I just had a night mare!! She IS the "Village". Yikes!! You just kill me...and the toaster-hilarious!

    Amanda- You are a Angel! So glad your were so persistant and then able to walk her through all of this in Houston. Thank you! So glad the Turks and Caicos Crew are taking control!! How proud I am to know all of you..

    Vic-Thanks for all your help in Arizona as well. You were a blessing...and how wierd that you already had that trip planned. It was just meant to be :) Cal- Brenda loved all your support and "cooking"...especially those choc/banana shakes, She still raves about those :) You 2 are so kind.

    Lynn and Kim- Sorry to say when Brenda goes through chemo she will have to retire the "Oster"...any takers out there?? My daughter Amy has been giving her Aunt some insights and tips on chemo. They sure have a special bond those 2.

    Sending you good vibes today sis...I love you! Will talk to you soon. You have to all help her get well, there are more trips out there to take with this "web" crew you know!!
    Love to you all!!Rhonda